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Time is now for spatial and land use planning and re-building the land administration system in Zimbabwe

Nov 28, 2013 - Comments: 0
cattle herder - Zimbabwe

In this 10th of 12 articles I focus on the need to rebuild the land use planning system and how this how this will aid land administration. I have argued throughout the series of articles that the Government of Zimbabwe and the key stakeholders need to craft a rehabilitation plan for the land sector. Looking back on the 3 decades since 1980, Zimbabwe has changed considerably in physical and spatial terms. Land settlement patterns have changed completely, and the spatial design model, which essentially saw urban development as a series of towns servicing former white farming areas, is now inadequate for long term planning.

Rules of the Game: Land Tenure and the Commercialisation of Smallholder Agriculture

Nov 12, 2013 - Comments: 0
Zimbabwe smallholding

The debate on land tenure has reached an impasse. A nationalist narrative based on the customary tenure system and state control over agricultural land has taken root. The purpose of this paper is to move the debate towards a more developmental approach that focuses primarily on reducing poverty in communal and resettlement areas. History, of course, matters. The paper therefore begins by providing a brief stylised account of how land rights evolved. It then presents an economic critique of how smallholders have become entrapped in a tenure and farming system which offers neither them nor their children much hope of escaping a life of poverty. From there, the paper presents an alternative land tenure policy and institutional framework as a foundation for reducing poverty by commercialising smallholder production. It posits two main arguments. The first is that security of tenure is a necessary condition for the commercialisation of agriculture, but not a sufficient one. Efficient smallholder farm production and commercialisation also require the transferability of property.1 The second argument is that enclosing common property or converting it into individual holdings is a necessary step towards ensuring environmental sustainability.

Remaking History: Citizenship, Power, and the Recasting of Heroes and Villains

Oct 02, 2013 - Comments: 1
Zanupf Rally, 2013

Joseph Hanlon, Jeanette Manjengwa and Teresa Stewart’s book, Zimbabwe Takes Back the Land, gives fresh impetus to Scoones’ narrative on land. Their blurb on the back cover recognises the deprecations of the Mugabe government, but assures readers that “ordinary” Zimbabwean settlers took charge of their destinies, are improving their lives, and are becoming increasingly productive. Like Scoones, it is fundamentally a plea to the international community to support new farmers on contested land. The main thrust of their argument is that Zimbabweans justifiably and successfully took back their land from white Rhodesian colonialist farmers. In this paper I challenge their remaking of history that casts war veterans as heroes and white farmers as villains. I focus primarily on identity, citizenship, and belonging: what it means to be Zimbabwean. Contrary to this reworking of the nationalist narrative, I argue that the land invasions were primarily used as a means to crush the opposition and as a tool of patronage ahead of crucial elections. But more than this, land seizures follow a well-practiced pattern of widespread and systematic violence against civilians – from Gukurahundi and Murambatsvina, to premeditated political violence. Robert Mugabe’s single-minded purpose has been to maintain his imperious powers against the sovereign will of the people at any cost. The wounds of history run too deep to be sanitised by apologias for his authoritarian and bloody rule.

Broadening and Deepening Rural Financial Services and Land Banking

Apr 08, 2013 - Comments: 0

Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector needs stronger financial markets: broader – reaching more customers – and deeper – offering more products. The role of financing for farmers, and especially for smallholders and family farms has not been given the attention it deserves. A few commercial agricultural commodities such as tobacco, cotton and soya beans have grown through contract farming as the main financing tool. While contract farming continues to offer opportunities, it has some challenges and the tool is not appropriate for many other commodities requiring finance. There is a need to scale up the successful contract farming models, and there is even more need for ambitious innovation, and for addressing the strategic issues girding the systemic and sustainable development of a vibrant rural financial services sector.

The Good, The Bad, and The Unworthy: Zimbabwe's Draft Constitution and its Implications for Land Policy

Mar 09, 2013 - Comments: 3

On the 6th February 2013, four years after the formation of a Government of National Unity, a draft Constitution was laid before Parliament and unanimously approved by the House of Assembly and the Senate. The parties that negotiated the Global Political Agreement (GPA) are urging the people to vote ‘Yes’ in a referendum on this proposed Constitution before it becomes our fundamental law. In this paper I explore those sections relevant to land policy, especially sections 296 and 297 on establishing a Land Commission and its role to conduct land audits; and section 72 governing rights to agricultural land. Section 72 is controversial because it incorporates key provisions from the previous constitution that were struck down by the SADC Tribunal on the basis that they were discriminatory and inimical to international law and the rule of law. The paper concludes that compromises made between political parties have produced a patchy charter with a mix of good and bad clauses. But the draft Constitution also includes provisions that make it unworthy of a democratic society based on justice, equality and the rule of law.


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